VOTE 100: Theresa May To Mark Anniversary Of The Vote
Prime Minister Theresa May will officially launch the UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign today
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
The PM will address invited guests exactly 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed, kicking off a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this day one of the most important milestones in British democratic history.
The Prime Minister and Members from both Houses gather in Central Lobby to celebrate the centinary.
“I look forward to joining hundreds of female Parliamentarians, past and present, to celebrate this very special anniversary”, Mrs May said ahead of today’s launch.
“I’m proud to say we have more women and more ethnic minority MPs in government than ever before – proving that we are committed to looking more like the country we serve.
“Everyone attending tonight will be there because of the heroic, tireless struggle of those who came before us. As well as remembering and giving thanks to those who came before us, we must also look at what more we can do to ensure everyone in the United Kingdom, regardless of background, has the freedom to play a full and active role in public life.”
We're celebrating #VOTE100, marking 100 years since the UK Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, giving all men and the first women the right to vote.https://t.co/PgdgEM3l6N pic.twitter.com/zJRdxVohzT— UK Parliament (@UKParliament) 6 February 2018
Opening this event as the UK’s second female Prime Minister, Mrs May will reflect on the enormous progress that has been made, but also on the vital campaigning work that continues today.
All female MPs past and present have been invited, in what is expected to be the largest gathering of the UK’s women politicians ever organised.
The evening will celebrate the pioneering women and men who fought for the right to vote, as well as the contribution of women to politics in the UK. As part of these celebrations, the purple white and green flag of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) will also be flown from the roof of Portcullis House.
Jordhi Nullatamby, 17, and a Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock who will compère the event, added:
“The Representation of the People Act 1918 was a vital step towards the rights women have today, and the centenary of the Act is an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought – and in some cases died – for equality.
“Nevertheless, the job is not yet complete. The fight for equality continues, and we must continue to campaign for legislation which ensures equal opportunities for all people.
“Hopefully in the next 100 years we will again be able to look back and celebrate the amazing strides we have made towards an even more equal society.”
The year 2018 also marks the anniversaries of three other significant milestones in the fight for universal suffrage. For the first time in history, today the Parliamentary Archives will display all four original Acts of Parliament together in Central Lobby for just one day, including:
Representation of the People Act 1918
Which gave all men over 21 and women over 30 who met a property qualification the right to vote (100 years)
Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918
Allowing women to be MPs (100 years)
Equal Franchise Act 1928
Giving women the vote on the same terms as men (90 years)
Life Peerages Act 1958
Allowing women to sit in the House of Lords as life peers (60 years)
Archivist, Mari Takayanagi and Curator, Melanie Unwin
“Bringing together these historic Acts for one day is a recognition of the vital role they have played in shaping our democracy”, said Mari Takayanagi, Co-curator of the Voice and Vote exhibition.
"It is particularly appropriate to have them in Central Lobby, where women were banned for many years because of suffragette disturbances.
“They will create a fitting backdrop to this celebration of the achievements that women have made, often in the most difficult of circumstances, in Parliament.”
Later in the year, the House of Lords will mark 60 years since women gained the right to sit in the House of Lords as life peers.
Your Story, Our History
As part of the Vote 100 programme, Parliament will release a series of hard-hitting films to highlight how four key acts changed the lives of women.
Four women have agreed to speak directly to camera in highly personal interviews about the difference the Representation of the People Act 1918, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, the National Health Service Act 1946 and Abortion Act 1967 have made to their lives.
The first film in the series explores the Representation of the People Act 1918. Tobi Oredein, 28, a journalist from London, shares her first voting experience and explores the impact of women’s franchise on women from all walks of life.
"I think the Representation of the People Act in 1918 was key to women’s empowerment because it was a step to being a little bit more equal, a little more visible…” Tobi commented.
“It was a step, a stepping stone in women’s rights.”
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